When Richard Turner was a fledgling mayor in Weehawken, he planted a tree in the lawn area adjacent to Town Hall on Park Avenue as part of the township’s holiday ceremonies. Now, 14 years later, the tree has grown to be the centerpiece of Weehawken’s tribute to the holiday season.
Standing nearly 14 feet tall, the majestic tree is decorated to the hilt by the township’s Department of Public Works, and tonight (Sunday, Dec. 7) at 7 p.m., the tree will be lit in its splendor at a festive ceremony outside Town Hall.
The tree-lighting ceremony will feature a concert by the Roosevelt School Choral Group, which consists of 30 fifth and sixth graders selected by music teacher Piero Romano to perform for this and other holiday events throughout the township for the remainder of the season.
The children, who Romano handpicked after extensive auditions, have been practicing for the concert for months, coming into school an hour before the first bell three times a week.
“They’re a very dedicated group of youngsters,” Turner said.
There is a non-denominational display of holiday decorations adorning the area, including snowmen, reindeer and of course, Santa Claus.
“It’s really a beautiful display,” Turner said. “The DPW does a fine job of putting the display together. It’s right in the center of town for everyone to see.”
The tree-lighting ceremony and concert, which usually draws a big crowd, will be held weather permitting.
“We’ve held it before in the rain and sometimes, the bitter cold,” Turner said. “We’ll have it if there’s snow on the ground. Barring any unforeseen blizzards, the ceremony will go on. It’s the official township kickoff to the holiday season.”
Turner said the children’s voices always give a special flavor to the atmosphere of the event.
“Hearing the young people only adds to the program,” Turner said. “People like to hear their voices, and then it becomes like a sing-along.”
After the concert and tree-lighting ceremony is completed, the spectators are invited to enjoy cookies and hot chocolate, courtesy of the township.
“It usually gets such a great turnout,” Turner said. “Everyone just enjoys the festive atmosphere. What you get are people from all walks of life, all religious denominations, all parts of the town, all getting together to celebrate the holiday season. Everyone has a good time enjoying each other’s company and getting into the spirit of the holidays.”
All of the township’s residents are encouraged to attend the tree-lighting ceremony. Turner already has his hand firmly placed on the switch to turn on the lights.
“It’s an event that everyone looks forward to,” Turner said.